Monday, October 25, 2010

Pacific examples lead the way in nature conservation

L - R Jackie Thomas WWF South Pacific Programme Office, Eleni Tokaduadua Fiji Environment Ministery, Bernard O'Callahan IUCN Oceania, Touasi Tiwok Vanuatu Environment Ministry, Stacy Jupiter Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji

The Pacific Voyage Media Team, 26 October Nagoya Japan - Fiji has demonstrated that they are a model for the Pacific in adopting and putting into practice ridge-to-reef management, also known as ecosystem-based management (EBM).

Eleni Rova Tokaduadua, from the Ministry of Local Government, Housing, Urban Development and Environment of Fiji, conducted a presentation that showcased how this nation was able to mainstream EBM practice both into government policies and implement it at the community level.

Community-based ecosystem management led to the adoption of a range of management measures, including fishing gear restrictions, restrictions on fishing methods, protection of species and the establishment of networks of marine and terrestrial protected areas.

EBM takes into account interactions among species, habitats and biophysical processes. Central to EBM is the idea that humans are an integral part of the ecosystem, since humans derive various services from the ecosystem and can also influence ecosystem processes. 

As Fiji has shown, people can influence and manage ecosystems on many levels, from locally-based approaches to nationally applied policies.

Pacific Island nations are facing critical environmental issues – pollution, habitat destruction, declining fisheries and climate change – which threaten their coastal ecosystems and impact on food security and well being.

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) offers an innovative approach to managing these threats in coastal ecosystems as it designs solutions to ecological issues with regard to social, economic and political drivers. This approach involves holistic thinking with participation from a broad range of stakeholders, including the government and traditional leaders, and differs markedly from a sectoral approach..

Tokaduadua says that the Fiji government has put in place statutes to address environmental issues, including the Environment Management Act 2005, which authorized the creation of Fiji's Integrated Coastal Management Committee. The Committee is explicitly applying EBM concepts to develop a National Coastal Plan for Fiji.

Vanuatu has also taken a leadership role in actively implementing EBM. Touasi Tiwok of the Vanuatu Department of Environment highlighted a case study where vetiver grass and acacia trees have been planted to trap sediment and re-establish indigenous forest in Aneityum Island, which suffers from erosion that has reduced the health of the adjacent coral reefs.

Tiwok says the great success of the project was due to the commitment of the small band of workers who shown dedication in forestry planting to prevent erosion sites. It might have taken years but the project paid off improving the state of its shores from erosion.
In the same event, Stacy Jupiter, the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji Country Program Director, launched a guide book on EBM principles to help governments, communities and conservation practitioners incorporate this approach into their management practices. The guide is specifically tailored to the needs and conditions of island countries in the Pacific.

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